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Saudi & Sinopec Yanbu Refinery Due Online by Nov 2014

Source: Reuters 5/21/2012, Location: Middle East

A major Red Sea oil refinery joint venture between Saudi Arabia and China is expected to be working by November 2014, the venture's chief executive officer told Reuters. Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refining Co's (YASREF) 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery, a joint Saudi Aramco and Sinopec venture, was on schedule and slightly under expected cost, said Fahad al-Helal.

"The refinery will come on stream October-November 2014... on schedule," he said on the sidelines of an industry conference in Manama.

Construction of the refinery was underway, but was originally to be built by by U.S. oil firm ConocoPhillips and Aramco. Conoco pulled out in April 2010 as it shifted away from the refining business to focus exploration.

The cost will be less than $10 billion, Helal said, slightly under previous projections.

"Its approximately less than that, I would say, less than 10 billion dollars," he said, without giving further details.

The refinery is slated to process heavy crude from Saudi Arabia's Manifa oilfield, which is currently under development to reach an output of 900,000 bpd by 2014.

The crude will be shipped from the kingdom's Eastern region where Aramco's oilfields are located, to Yanbu crude terminal and then will be transported via a 6-km long pipeline to the refinery, 62.6 percent owned by Aramco and 37.5 percent owned by Sinopec.

The refinery will produce cleaner fuels such as 10 parts per million (ppm) ultra low sulphur diesel. The main products of the refinery will be 3,000 bpd of benzene, 263,000 bpd of diesel, 90,000 bpd of gasoline, 6,200 tonnes per day of pet coke and around 1,200 tonnes per day of sulphur.

Some of the products will be for the domestic use of the kingdom while some will be exported.

"The next phase is petrochemical expansion," Helal said. He added that the company was looking into the possibility of an initial public offering (IPO) eventually but it was still in early stages.

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